DreamWorks Animation employees have been reassured by executives that the company will keep making movies at the DreamWorks headquarters in Glendale, California.
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts issued the promise to staff during a town hall meeting Wednesday, following last week’s announcement that Comcast’s NBCUniversal will be buying the animation company for $3.8 billion.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg made opening remarks to the 1,500 employees gathered at the Glendale campus, after which Roberts revealed: “This came together really fast, but has been in our hearts for a long time.
“We will absolutely continue to make animated films here,” he said, describing the transition as “the awesome responsibly of trying to find a way to take your dream and try to carry on your legacy and celebrate it in a way that will make you proud.”
As part of the deal announced on April 28, Katzenberg will give up his role running the studio and be tasked with running DWA’s digital studio, Awesomeness TV, holding the title of Chairman of DreamWorks New Media.
Moving forward, NBCUniversal will operate DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment as separate arms, with Chris Meledandri running both divisions.
“You are going to be part of the company that televises the Olympics, that has Jimmy Fallon, that has 22 cable channels, that has great theme parks around the world — and everything you create is going to be celebrated and marketed and promoted and enjoyed by the rest of this great company,” Burke promised the staff.
“If you are a student of this business, you know it’s very hard to do more than two animated films per year as one organization.
“If we could go from two animated films a year to four animated films a year by having two different parts of our company making those films, that would really advance our desire to be everything we could possibly be in the entertainment business,” he went on to say.
As for Katzenberg, after he told the staff that he liked, respected and trusted Roberts, Burke and Ron Meyer, he admitted that he was “sad [and] glad” about the deal. “I am sad that I am passing this on to others … but I’m glad for you,” he said. “And I ask you to do the same for me. It’s sad, but I want you to be glad for me, because honestly I couldn’t be happier.”
“What became incredibly clear to me very quickly is the opportunity for this company for the next five years in their hands, with their resources, with their ambition, was just absolutely beyond anything I could achieve,” he added.
“These are people that have come to build. I trust them — and so should you,” Katzenberg staffed.